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Listen: Six-month journey to financial health

Jul 14, 2023

The 2023 City Press/Absa Money Makeover Challenge has begun. This is the seventh year where I will work together with a team of Absa financial advisers to coach six contestants on their six-month journey to financial health.

In this podcast I chat to Sarah Nkwana of Absa about the candidates, why they were selected and the challenges they face.

Everyone following the Money Makeover Challenge will find someone they can identify with. You can follow their journey here or on Facebook.

The 2023 Candidates

Zihle is in her mid-twenties, is a qualified professional, and has a good job in the medical field. While she is at an age when most young people would be enjoying life, she finds herself responsible for raising her siblings. Zihle is a very real example of what is happening in many families. She has been paired with Absa adviser Anton Battiss who is already finding ways to help her navigate her finances, including helping her to wind up her mother’s estate.

Mlibokazi is in her early thirties and is facing the reality of taking on too much debt too soon. Credit is one of those shortcuts that seem like a good idea at the time, but which end up really derailing your finances. Mlibokazi’s story is quite typical of many young people who start working at a bank. If you are a bank employee you get discounts on interest rates and find yourself under pressure to help your family achieve their goals. Mlibokazi has started working with Absa adviser Khathutshelo Ravele who is looking at various debt repayment options but also getting Mlibokazi and her husband to work together on their finances.

Molefi is in his early thirties and is financially strong. He has no debt, although he supports his mother. He has built up investments and his goal is to be financially independent at the age of 45 so he can start his own business. He is working with Absa adviser Mcebisi Ndaba who is going to help him achieve his goals, which include buying his first home and getting married. It will be interesting to see how those goals affect his longer-term financial plan. It is usually when you start accumulating assets like a home and starting a family that the real financial pressures starts.

Johan is our retirement story. He and his wife are retiring in the next five to six years and they desperately need to get their finances in order. They are not in a great financial position. Although their home is paid off, they have accumulated a great deal of debt which they are going to struggle to pay off, which makes it difficult to save for retirement. The credit team worked out that they couldn’t solve his debt repayments without debt review. So for the first time in Money Makeover history, we will be following the journey of a candidate going into debt review and his experience of it. This is definitely a story to follow. The amount he is saving on repayments due to the lower interest rates obtained by his debt counsellor is remarkable. His financial adviser Takalani Badugela is working with a debt counsellor to create a solution for Johan that helps him achieve his retirement goal.

Raymond and Sello are both business stories. We have always had entrepreneurs as part of Money Makeover but Sello’s story is different. He is looking for funding from the IDC to manufacture eco-friendly straws but first he has to fund the manufacture of his first protype. He is a great example of business opportunities in South Africa and we will be pulling in the enterprise team at Absa to work with his financial adviser Philander Tshivhenga.

Raymond is our other entrepreneur but he is different from Sello – Sello is working and earns a decent salary and this is a side business venture for him. Raymond has a startup restaurant in the township and is a subsistence farmer, and he needs his business to feed him and his family. Raymond is unfortunately a reality in South Africa. He is in his early thirties and has never been employed. He is a smart, clever, articulate young man but job opportunities are just not available. The reality in South Africa is very high youth unemployment. So he needs to make his own income. His adviser Jacoline De Villiers will also be working closely with the Absa enterprise team to teach Raymond the business skills he needs to make this work.

Our six candidates are all very interesting and relatable stories. We look forward to following along with them on their six-month journey to financial health.

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Maya Fisher-French author of Money Questions Answered

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